Land Trust Appeals Axing of Street Trees in Cranston

By FRANK CARINI/ecoRI News staff

 Last month National Grid started marking trees for removal for the interconnection of two solar projects. (Mike Coutu)

Last month National Grid started marking trees for removal for the interconnection of two solar projects. (Mike Coutu)

CRANSTON, R.I. — The West Bay Land Trust recently appealed the decision to remove city street trees on Hope Road, Lippitt Avenue, and Laten Knight Road near Knight Farm conservation land.

Last month National Grid started marking trees for removal for the interconnection of the Lippitt Avenue and Hope Road solar projects. The utility told the City Council’s public works committee that it would be cutting down a total of 243 trees along those three streets.

For its appeal, the West Bay Land Trust cited a town ordinance that states, “Unless the tree or shrub constitutes an imminent public hazard, the tree warden shall give ten (10) days' notice of the removal or pruning of trees located on public rights of way.”

Most of the marked trees are adjacent to conservation land and are on the city’s Historic Farm Route Loop, according to Douglas Doe, president of the West Bay Land Trust.

“We are particularly concerned about the removal of trees on the side of the road opposite the power line,” he wrote in a June 26 letter to tree warden Rick DeGrandpre. “Many of the trees are mature shade trees vital to retaining the rural character of the area, an important goal of the comprehensive plan.”

In a June 29 letter to DeGrandpre, Doe noted that the city’s comprehensive plan provides specific goals and policies to protect the scenic and conservation values of land in western Cranston, with specific references to the Historic Scenic Farm Loop.

“The destruction of 243 street trees harms and is in direct contradiction of the specific policies and goals listed below,” he wrote.

Those comprehensive plan policies included land use (scenic roads), natural resources (manage development along the Scenic Farm Route Loop), and open space.

A public hearing is scheduled for July 12 at 3 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Town Hall, 869 Park Ave. Within three days of the hearing, DeGrandpre is expected to render a decision.